“Life is a choice
Cultivate your power of foresight
Make and execute prompt decisions.”
(Apple Town 10/2013)
I found this seemingly simple quote translated in a book from my hotel room when I recently visited Japan. What I realized is that this simple saying could actually be applied to every business owner that uses business intelligence, and also to business owners who currently don't.
So, how does this saying apply to non-BI users and current BI users?
As a business owner you are full of choices. Which means that you need to cultivate the power of foresight and make prompt decisions based on your current information.
As most of you know, information is at the heart of any good business decision. Good information assets can come from a variety of sources: Marketing and customer information, financial data, or systems and processes designed to gather useful business related data. Collecting, organizing, and analyzing this data effectively can make the difference between a thriving company and a missed opportunity.
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BI Basics & the Benefits
Business Intelligence, or BI, is a business strategy for taking raw data from a variety of sources, pulling it together and then redistributing the information to different entities throughout the organization in a way that makes the most sense so the information can be analyzed and used in decision-making processes. BI provides a solid foundation for making insightful decisions ranging from the right product to purchase to the right business plan to follow, making it a critical part of a company’s arsenal.
Even if a business has accumulated a great deal of information, correctly interpreting the data can be a challenge. Business intelligence is the act of converting those facts, figures and impressions into a workable model that can be used as the knowledge base that will assist in building company strategies. Since every employee will bring their own unique perspective to the process, good BI can help ensure that everyone is involved in interpreting the information, or make sure that everyone is on the same page, using the same set of facts. This can speed up decision-making while helping to produce better decisions.
How to Build a Stronger Business with BI
Successful business intelligence involves a variety of different elements. A good BI strategy will involve input from stakeholders, an analysis of industry best practices, and clear metrics to establish business goals and measure progress. But the most basic step is to collect and organize the raw data, which requires the right software. Data mining and analytical processing are essential to identifying relevant information, while an effective dashboard reporting program serves to present the data in a useful form. Therefore, a strong business intelligence application is critical to building a strong business.
Several such applications are available. SAP’s BusinessObjects, for example, is designed to provide self-service access that links every member of an organization to relevant information, while IBM’s Cognos Business Insight offers a range of planning, modeling and analytics tools for sifting through data. But technology can only supplement a BI strategy, so it’s important to select the right software to fit the company’s operations, and to have a clear plan for integrating the application.
Whether the strategy uses Cognos, BusinessObjects or another program, selecting the proper infrastructure can be just as important. The nature of the server, and whether users have access to delayed or real-time data, will help to define how a company can use the information a BI system collects.
The details of the system and how it operates will vary from business to business, but an ideal system will give decision makers meaningful information that will help them guide corporate policy. A strong BI strategy is an essential part of making the most out of the information at a company’s disposal, helping it responds to both changes in the market and shifting customer needs.
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